Users Happy with Windows 7 -- and with XP

Windows 7 is doing part of what Microsoft needed it to do. It's eliminating the specter of Vista and delighting customers. (There was a time when Microsoft folks used the word "delight" as if it was the last verb on the face of the earth.)

A Forrester Research study says that most early adopters are happy with Windows 7--86 percent, in fact. Great! The study also showed that, interestingly enough, plenty of consumers (43 percent) just plain went out and bought Windows 7 rather than obtaining it by buying a new PC.

That speaks well, we'd say, for the product--almost half of the Windows 7 users surveyed went out of their way to purchase and upgrade the new OS and install it on PCs they already had. That shows that there's interest in the OS itself; it isn't just gaining momentum as PC sales increase.

But (didn't you see this coming?) the survey also revealed that XP is hanging on to its user base and not letting go. Forrester's findings indicated that 43 percent of PC owners see no reason why they should move away from XP. We would argue, as we did earlier this week, that they'll start to see some reasons soon, but the XP die hards are...well, dying hard, we suppose.

Of course, all of this is just consumer stuff, but it's still an indicator of where Windows 7 is in users' minds right now. And, as all partners know, IT decision makers take their user bases heavily into account when making decisions on technology acquisitions--and particularly when deciding on something as universal as an operating system.

So, at this point, we'd say that folks like the idea of Windows 7 a little more than they like the idea of actually installing it. That might be the case in the enterprise as well--Windows 7 gets lots of love from IT folks, generally speaking, but how many of them have actually implemented it at their companies? Not as many as love it, we can say with some confidence. (They will, however, have until the end of the year to try the OS for free.)

Again, we at RCPU are still convinced that new servers and applications and other cool stuff coming from both Microsoft and third parties will make XP irrelevant and mostly useless fairly soon--probably within the next couple of years. And the good news here is that when XP does finally start to fade, there will be an excellent replacement waiting in the wings. Then, Windows 7 will do the other part of what it's supposed to do--conquer OS market share and line the pockets of Microsoft partners.

Keep the comments coming on XP and Windows 7. We might just run some of them this week. You can send them to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 31, 2010 at 11:56 AM3 comments


Microsoft Issues Patches for IE Holes

IE8 and Windows 7 users, don't worry about this. The rest of you...read up.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 31, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


The Brave Last Days of Windows XP

If you've been to a grocery store--and it's hard to imagine that you haven't--then you've seen the tabloid headlines. Some Hollywood star, usually a washed-up sap whose fame flickered out 20 years ago, sadly succumbs to some awful affliction, and the tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter chronicle his or her journey into that good night.  

Almost inevitably, the tabs use the headline "Brave Last Days." Presumably, anybody who was ever even mildly famous is "brave" as the clock winds down.  But we digress...and this is getting a little morbid. The reason we bring up the "brave last days" meme, though, is because we're reaching that point for an old, trusted friend: Windows XP.

Oh, sure, XP is alive and well on my netbook and on the PCs of the majority of computer users. It ain't dead yet, you might be thinking (presumably in a Texas accent, which was what I just used to enunciate that sentence). No, it ain't dead yet. But it is dying. Microsoft is killing it softly.

This week, Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley revealed that the Windows Live Wave 4 application suite will join IE9 in not supporting XP. There will be more stories like this, obviously, as Microsoft rolls out new product and initiatives.

And Microsoft has to do this. It's not just because of profits or market share, although those are obviously big factors in Windows XP's forthcoming demise. It's also because Windows XP is nearly a decade old, and it really won't be able to handle some of the products Microsoft is about to release. One Windows expert told RCPU in passing a few months ago that Windows XP is a child's toy compared to Windows 7, or something to that effect. Having now used Windows 7, we believe it.

Migration to Windows 7 is a matter of time at this point. OK, so Microsoft didn't provide an upgrade path from XP. That was a mistake. But plenty of third parties are stepping in to fill that breach now. Partners, your customers can either get a jump on everybody else by taking advantage of everything Microsoft offers with Windows 7, or they can stagnate with XP until the old OS is finally pretty much useless. The evidence behind that statement is just going to get stronger, no matter how courageously old XP faces extinction. These are XP's Brave Last Days; it's time to fondly remember the old OS and move on.

We've had some good e-mails about this, but we want more: What's your take on leaving XP and moving to Windows 7? Send your thoughts to [email protected]cpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM13 comments


Study: Removing Admin Rights is (Still) the Safest Way to Run Windows 7

BeyondTrust dropped in this week to tell us that eliminating administrator rights for end users can eliminate a lot of the vulnerabilities in Windows 7. It's handy information to have...except that BeyondTrust said just about the exact same thing a year ago. Well, at least we know that nothing has changed.

Curious to know what Microsoft thought about this, we contacted the company and got this official (and not especially brief) statement, which we quote verbatim:

"Before User Account Control (UAC) was introduced, most Windows consumer and enterprise users ran with administrative rights, which meant that ISVs could inadvertently make their applications dependent on administrative rights.  Applications running with administrative rights have the ability to tamper with all user and Windows system data, including the ability to disable anti-virus and other security measures.  Introduced in Windows Vista, UAC is a set of technologies that helps legacy applications to run with standard user rights and ISVs to adapt their software to work well with standard user rights.  This gives users a more compatible choice to secure their systems by running with standard user rights instead of administrator rights.
 
"We believe that running users as standard users is good for Windows, the ecosystem, and all of our users. Configuring users as standard users enables parents to more securely share family computers with their children and enterprise administrators to configure standard user accounts for employees, lowering TCO and improving security. It is our hope that with the help of UAC that ISVs will continue to adapt their software to work well with standard user rights."

So...there you go. Standard user rights are the way to go.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments


IE8 Hacked in 2 Minutes -- and That's Not Too Bad

Not too bad for Microsoft, that is. Some experts were actually impressed that the browser held out for two minutes in the Pwn2Own hacking event. Good to know where that bar is set, then.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments


Windows Server Users Can Get onto Amazon's Cloud

Amazon and Microsoft have cooked up an offering through which some Windows Server users can apply their licensed to Amazon's cloud offering.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft Gives Peek at Office Communications Server 14

Due later this year, OCS 14 will be heavy on social networking and unified communications capabilities, as Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley explains. And does Microsoft see a market for it? Oh, yeah. A pretty big one, actually.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Google Ends China Censorship; Congress Unimpressed with Microsoft

Google won't censor its search results in China anymore, but Microsoft has been less committal to the idea of bucking the Chinese government's wishes. That has made for some tasty talking points for a few politicians this week.

 

Posted by Lee Pender on March 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments


Sorting Out Windows Phone 7

Never count Microsoft out. We've said it here many times before, and partners know what we're talking about. Sure, Redmond slipped big time with Vista, but Windows 7 looks like a winner. Yeah, Microsoft had a few rough financial quarters, but its last earnings report was pretty spectacular. Again and again, pundits want to write Microsoft off, to say that the Redmond giant is on its last legs.

It's happening now with Windows Mobile (including in this space, sometimes)--or, at least, it was until Microsoft started talking about Windows Phone 7. Now, the Web is spinning about the new operating system that could put Microsoft right back in the exploding mobile game. Windows Phone 7 has some intriguing characteristics, which should differentiate it from the much-maligned Windows Mobile 6.5 (which, by the way, will live on post-Windows Phone 7), as well as help Microsoft stand out in a crowded mobile OS market place.

But the forthcoming OS has done more than just catch the attention of market-share watchers and gadget freaks. It has also cranked up a nice little rumor mill, with speculation that it might be in Microsoft's best interest to buy Palm, or, quite to the contrary, that Microsoft is heading down a path similar to the one that has led Palm to near disaster.

And then there are the inevitable conflicts and problems with third parties, the first of which has occurred with Mozilla. Firefox for Windows Mobile is in a coma at best and dead at worst, meaning Microsoft has already managed to tick off one developer with Windows Phone 7 and might be on the way to angering a few more. That's not unusual, though, and it has rarely hurt Microsoft in the past. Plenty of third parties will want to jump on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon if the platform is even mildly successful. Plus, Microsoft does have a browser of its own (or so we hear...).

So, there's a lot to think about and observe with Windows Phone 7, but we at RCPU know this much: Microsoft has historically been pretty darn good at selling operating systems. And if the company and its partners are making Windows Phone 7 a real priority--and we think they are--then we're not ready to count Microsoft out in the mobile OS market. Windows Phone 7 might never be ubiquitous the way Windows XP is (and Windows 7 will be) given Microsoft's current position in the market and the competitors the company faces, but is it safe for partners to invest in Windows Phone 7? We're thinking that it is safe--and probably smart, too.

What do you want to see from Windows Phone 7? How successful do you think it will be? Answer at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 25, 2010 at 11:56 AM3 comments


Microsoft To Drop Select Licensing

After July 1 of next year, Select Licensing will give way to...Select Plus (which isn't actually new at all). Well, it at least sounds better, doesn't it? 

Posted by Lee Pender on March 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Symantec Introduces Web-Monitoring Service

Symantec is saying that its new hosted manage service can catch malware attacks right as they're happening, rather than after they've done their damage -- and, in some cases, before they even hit. Interesting stuff here (if we do say so ourselves...).

Posted by Lee Pender on March 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft OfficeTalk: Yet Another Way To Communicate

OK, so it's not a product yet, but it probably will be at some point. Or it'll be part of another product. And we're kind of wondering why.

We're referring here to OfficeTalk, a Microsoft project that's getting tons of attention right now. Here's how we've most often seen it described: Twitter for the workplace. Great. First, we here at RCPU have to get on Twitter because it's what everybody else is doing (something we still don't quite understand). Now, we're facing the possibility of having to deal with Twitter at work?

People must just love this "microblogging" stuff. We find it arrogant and mindless, mostly, and figure that it usually amounts to a big waste of time. So, do folks really want people tweeting -- or OfficeTalking, or whatever -- in the office all day? Apparently this little application has caught on inside Microsoft. Fantastic. Let Microsoft keep it a secret (too late...).

Look, here's the deal: We at RCPU are all for communication, but we don't think that anybody lacks for methods of communication right now. Mobile devices, e-mail, social-networking sites and even some old-fashioned telephone calls keep us all tied together pretty well.

Your editor recently got to see an extensive, interactive demo of Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010, and the communication capabilities in those products are mind-blowing. (Their integration into the rest of the Microsoft stack is also amazing.) Seriously. Go get the Outlook 2010 beta if you want a taste. There's some amazing stuff in there. Every possible form of communication seems to blend into every other seamlessly -- only the voice-recognition element (which we've never trusted, anyway, and don't totally understand the mainstream need for) was a bit sketchy. Everything else was incredible, at least in the demo.

Is OfficeTalk, then, really necessary? Partners, will it help you snatch customers away from Lotus Notes if and when it becomes part of, say, SharePoint? If so, great. Really, if it's a sales booster for the channel, we're all for it. But it sure seems like a built-in office time-waster -- as if the Web doesn't already offer enough of those -- and just another management hassle for IT. How many ways do we really need to get a hold of each other? One more, apparently.

What's your take on Twitter for the workplace? Do we need it? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments